Ohio Teachers Strikes Spread to Lordstown – Help Us Cover it

Teachers strikes are beginning to spread in Ohio - bringing back memories of West Virginia Teachers Strike (The Columbus Dispatch)

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Folks, 

With striking Columbus teachers reaching a tentative agreement today, I am sensing a lot of deja vu of what happened in West Virginia 4 years ago when teachers won a bold strike, inspiring teachers nationwide to go on strike. 

Teachers throughout the state are upset over devastating property tax cuts, creating prime conditions for more strikes. 

Now, the strikes in Ohio are spreading to Lordstown and the nearby serving school district of Niles, Ohio. Teachers there have voted to go on strike next Thursday. 

The Niles community was devastated by the closing of the Lordstown GM plant in 2019 (a 5-10 minute drive from the plant). Teachers in Niles now make less than $7,000 – $8,000 less than teachers in neighboring districts while being forced to do more. Teachers determined to improve conditions, teachers are pledging to go on strike next Thursday. 

“They have seen a 9% raise in the last 10 years,” Melanie Hameed, president of the North Eastern Ohio Education Association, told WVIZ. “And the last contract that they had, they had straight zeroes so you know, who could live on that?”

The school district recently signaled that it intended to play hardball by voting to cut off all health insurance to all teachers who go on strike next week. 

While the teachers are facing a school boarding playing hardball, autoworkers across town are also facing union busting as GM seeks to reopen the shuttered Lordstown GM Plant partially. 

In December of 2019, Payday Report warned that a new joint venture between GM and LG Energy to produce electric batteries in the closed Lordstown plant was simply an attempt to union bust. 

Those fears seem to have come to fruition. 

A new joint venture between GM and LG Energy called Utlium is refusing to agree to union neutrality provisions and a card check union recognition agreement. 

“This process has been agreed to by many employers for a smooth and peaceful recognition of the UAW,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes wrote in a letter to union leaders earlier this month. “Ultium flat out rejected those simple basic features of a card check recognition we proposed.”

A lot is going on in Lordstown, and Payday wants to be to cover it. A victory in a place like Lordstown and Niles could inspire more unions throughout the region. 

We need to pay for gas, hotels, food, tolls, and other travel expenses to cover these strikes.

Donate to help us stay on the road in Ohio so that I can travel out there later in the week

Payday has shown a consistent ability to impact the conversation in the US. Last year, The Washington Post cited our work tracking strikes in a front-page cover story. The New York Times described us as a publication with “new energy.” PBS American Portrait profiled our work tracking the strike wave, and Esquire described our work as “invaluable.” 

Donate to help us travel throughout Ohio to cover these exciting teacher strikes. Please sign up as one of our 711 recurring donors today if you can. 

Thanks for all the support – you make labor journalism possible.

Love & Solidarity,

Melk

About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered Lula & the drug war in Brasil, and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2015, he used his NLRB settlement from being fired illegally for union organizing at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh, where he grew up in a UE union household. Email: [email protected]

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